Research team

Development and validation of a new framework for the integration of technical and consumer-experience-based materials selection throughout the design process. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021


With the emergence of new materials, the available set of materials is rapidly growing both in type and number, each with their own characteristics and applications. Hence, materials selection in product design is a complex and costly process. Since people interact with materials through products, the products' materials should not only meet technical qualifications, but also appeal to the senses of the consumer, attribute specific meanings, provoke intended emotions, and be context-specific. Consequently, industrial design engineers should be supported in integrating these different material understandings, and especially in taking the consumer perspective into account. This research will focus on closing the knowledge gap in continuous materials selection support - customised to the evolving multidisciplinary needs of industrial design engineering - throughout the entire design process, with special focus upon consumer-centred aspects of design. The success of new products depends upon their adoption by end consumers and, therefore, particular attention should be paid to designing products in such a way that they appeal to these consumers and their consumption context [1]. The overall research objective is to develop and test a generic framework to support early (new) materials decisions, integrating technical and consumer-experiential aspects. The conceptual basis of the study project combines two methodologies: 'Research in Design Context' and 'Design Inclusive Research', that provide frameworks in which 'design' is considered as an evolving research process to arrive at a new product that is both technically optimal and consumer-centred. A stepwise research design combines existing data (literature review), consumer insights (workshops), insights in motives and criteria for material choices (qualitative research, quantitative model building with professionals) and case studies (validating of the methodology with companies) The research project thus attempts to provide and test a methodology to bridge the current technical - consumer-experiential imbalance in industrial design engineering and to enhance the consumer perspective in this process. It can also improve the adoption of new materials and products. The theoretical and methodological contribution is that the project aims at developing and testing a new framework for materials selection in the design process that integrates both perspectives, for an increased adoption of newly developed products in the market place. A combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches and inductive and deductive reasoning in a mixed methods approach is used.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project